Blowing Rock Art & Sculpture Trail
As we established early in Year of the Trail, not all trails are rugged hiking experiences. There are different kinds with different surfaces, and some have fun cultural aspects. This is one of those trails. Created to meander through Blowing Rock and take in all of the art that makes the town beautiful, the Art & Sculpture trail has plenty to offer. There are fifteen stops on this trail and two bonus stops that are located in restaurants that are open for reservations. The trail covers fan favorites such as Jesse in front of Blowing Rock Community Library, and The Gardener in Memorial Park. It also shows lesser known sculptures such as kinetic sculputes Smokey, and Norma’s Flowers. This trail takes you on a 2.8 mile loop through the middle of downtown allowing you to be close to coffee shops and stores where you can pop in and warm up. There are also benches in downtown where you can sit and rest. Perusing all of the great art in town is a fantastic way to spend the afternoon.
Trail Length: 2.8 mi loop
Difficulty: easy to moderate
Surface: sidewalk & paved
Trail Use: walking, jogging, leashed dogs okay
From US 321 Turn into Shoppes on the Parkway Dr. Park at the end of the shopping center, closest to the road. You will begin the trail from the sidewalk at the front of Shoppes on the Parkway and continue to the right towards Chetola.
NC Mountains to Sea Trail
The NC Mountains to Sea Trail stretches 1,175 miles across our stunning state. The trail passes through Blowing Rock along the High Country Segment, following the Blue Ridge Parkway for much of the segment. This 3-mile portion from Shull’s Mill Road to Trout Lake is a beautiful ramble through the woods, with access available all year regardless of any winter-weather closures on the Parkway. A set of wooden stairs marks the beginning of this particular hike. They simply ascend up the hillside directly from the side of the road! The first half mile is a steady climb that adds difficulty to the overall route. The trail winds through a mix of tall hardwood (husks on the ground suggest hickory) and evergreen trees for an initial elevation gain of 500 feet.
Trail Length: 3 miles
Difficulty: easy to moderate
Surface: ½ mile of single-track dirt, remaining distance is wide gravel path
Trail Use: Hiking, leashed dogs ok
Blaze: white dot
There is an informal parking area on Shulls Mill Road, on the left about 1.7 miles from the Blowing Rock end. There’s room for 4 or 5 cars. Be sure to back in to park to allow for a safer departure. You’ll see a trail marker at the parking area; this portion of the trail continues toward Price Lake. For this hike, walk along the road back toward Blowing Rock several yards to a set of wooden steps on the other side of the road. To hike this 3-mile route one way, park a second vehicle or arrange a pick up at Trout Lake parking area.
This trail is accessed from the Blowing Rock Attraction and payment is required to access. Park in the main parking lot and enter through the building. While this trail is short on paper, prepare to climb up and down some pretty steep steps before starting out! A great workout with very rewarding views, this trail is worth the effort if you find yourself in town and don’t have the time to head out onto the Blue Ridge Parkway. This trail takes approximately 30 minutes to complete. You’ll need no special gear or expertise to take on these trails, but do be aware that during cold winter days there can be some ice chunks along the path, so tread carefully! This trail is open year round, and also makes for a wonderful wildflower hike in the Spring and Summer months!
Trail Length: 0.5 mile loop
Difficulty: Moderate with some steep sections
Surface: Boardwalk and steps with some breif gravel sections
Trail Use: Hiking (Dogs must be leashed)
From Blowing Rock, take HWY 321 toward Lenoir. On the left you will see the Green Park Inn and on the right there will be a sign for The Blowing Rock Attraction. At the stoplight turn right and stay straight on the road until you reach the Blowing Rock Attraction.
Moses H. Cone Memorial Park is one of the most iconic landmarks anywhere along the Blue Ridge Parkway. We’ve been exploring the Cone Trails all throughout 2023 as part of Great Trails NC’s #YearOfTheTrail, and figured we’d pack in one more before the year was over. This week we hiked Duncan Road, one of the main carriage trails connecting Flat Top Manor and Bass Lake. A great walk with some spectacular views, we simply can’t recommend this trail enough!
Trail Length: 5 miles out and back
Trail Use: hiking, leashed dogs okay, horseback riding
This trail connects from Bass Lake to Flat Top Manor, making it one of the best routes to access both locations. A gentle trail, the surface is a wide gravel and doesn’t require any special footwear, although you will be gaining and losing some elevation as you go so be ready to climb in some areas. Enjoy a stroll along the historic old carriage trails through rhododendron lined forests, and expect to see at least a couple fellow hikers as this trail is relatively popular throughout the year due to its ease of access.
As we’ve mentioned above, horseback riding and carriage rides are also available to reserve ahead of time. While we were out on the trail, Chad from Carriage Run passed by and was kind enough to ask if we’d like a ride.
Although we don’t recommend getting into just ANY random carriage in the woods with a stranger, we have to admit that it was a wonderful way to spend a crisp afternoon in December and we can’t thank Chad and the folks at Carriage Run enough!
Take US 221 towards Linville and travel for about 1 mile. Turn left onto the entrance for Bass Lake.
We’ve wrapped up this year’s Year of the Trail with one hike per week equalling 52 trails! We’ll be looking back over these trails with fresh eyes this upcoming year, so be prepared for more information to come. See more about Year of the Trail in Blowing Rock >> There is also ongoing maintenance on the Parkway. To see if it will affect your hiking plans, see our page: Improvement Projects on the Blue Ridge Parkway.